A High Court judge has called for legislation to allow the courts to make payments on a periodic basis in catastrophic personal injury cases, instead of one off lump sums.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine, who oversees the personal injury list in the High Court, said a system of periodic payments was needed now.

She said it was unacceptable and lamentable that there was no such system in place.

The judge said there was a list of catastrophic injury cases where interim payments have been made.

They had been postponed until October, in the hope that promised legislation in the area would be introduced but they will now have to be heard before the court to allow lump sums to be awarded.

She made her comments while approving a settlement of €4.5m for a child who suffered severe injuries as a result of alleged negligence at his birth at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin in 1998.

This case had again brought to the surface that there was no system in this country to deal with a case by means of periodic payments she said.

The judge said that there was a lot of discussion at the moment about childrens' rights.

She said we were ignoring the rights of the most vulnerable in society - those who need round the clock care for the rest of their lives.

The court in these types of cases could only assess life expectancy and award a lump sum.

Judge Irvine said she feared if the child lived for longer than calculated at the time the settlement was approved, the money could run out.

She queried How catastrophically injured people live out their lives, saying the lump sum could be too much or too little.

The judge noted a Working Group on Periodic Payment Orders was set up by the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns.

The group was set up three-and-a-half years ago and had reported in October 2010 that legislation was required to allow periodic payments to be introduced.

She said it was two years since that recommendation had been made to the Government.

Judge Irvine said it was a simple system that would mean no child would run out of money and no family would be due a windfall.

The judge said she would be dealing with a list of cases which have been postponed in the hope legislation would be enacted in early October and she said she would probably be saying the same thing then.

Last April she said the Courts were "gambling" daily with the welfare and security of those who suffer catastrophic injuries because of the failure to legislate on the issue.